Thursday, December 18, 2008

Theme Dining: Taiwan Style

Themed restaurants in Tokyo offer amazing variety, from christian cathedrals, to prisons, vampire castles, a rabbit hole (of Alice and wonderland fame) and of course many comic book adaptations. Now the boom years before the Asian economic bubble burst apparently offered an even better selection (I am slightly disappointed that I missed the chance to eat ice cream together with real live penguins...), but even then I don't think they would have beaten this particular Taiwanese restaurant in terms of unexpectedness.

How many Japanese does it take to Change a light?

I finally moved to a new flat. The word "Finally" is going to take some elaborating, so I'll save that for another post.

Since moving in I have had to spend two or so weeks sorting out all manor of Japanese paperwork and red tape. Some of it you expect, filling in the real estate contract in triplicate, getting official seals stamped on the contract, getting official documents proving that the official seals stamped on the contract are legitimate, et cetera.

That sort of thing is frustrating, but expected. Its all the unexpected things that are annoying, and there are a LOT of those. Take for example the fact that Japanese apartments don't come with light fittings. I'm not talking a lack of light bulbs, they don't even come with the appropriately shaped hole to insert them into. I was reasonably lucky that the previous resident of my place had left one very old and slightly broken fitting behind. I decided it needed replacing.

Naturally being as old as it was it didn't make use of the now standardized interchangeable power connector so I had to call an electrician to get it changed. The electrician I called wasn't able to tell me what days he was available when I called, and said he would call back later. He did after 3 days to ask "Is now ok?" Not really what I had been expecting, but I was just up the road shopping so thought it would be ok. Met him back at my place, he came in, looked at the light fitting and said "oh, that type, I didn't bring the right tools for that. Is it ok to come back tommorow?"

Next morning he now shows up with another guy, seems to have the right tools, gets halfway through and realizes he doesn't have the right kind of screws, so sends his partner back to the shop to get them. AKWARD 30MINUTE CONVERSATION. Guy comes back with screws and finishes the job.

Payment time. Using carbon paper to write out an invoice he manages to carbon copy my name onto the cover of his notebook, but somehow not onto my copy of the invoice. I can live with that as I know my own name. I hand over some money to pay for it, and the two guys spend the next 5 minutes going through both of their wallets trying to find change.

They give up eventually and leave promising to be back in a few (Of course at this point the combined contents of both of their wallets were at this point sitting in two small piles in the middle of my floor). One of them comes back eventually with my change, and needs me to remind him about the two heaps of coins and notes in the middle of the my floor that he might want to take with him.

How many Japanese does it take to change a light? Only 2, but it takes far more drama than you can imagine. Oh and I have the plumber coming next week.
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